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With a new year comes a new round of blog awards, and I was lucky enough to be nominated for the Liebster Award by Hannah from Sadie Mae’s Mommy. Thank you, Hannah!

the-liebster-award

Here are the rules of the Liebster Award:

1. List 11 things about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions that the tagger has set for you, plus write another 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 bloggers (or more or less).
4. No tag backs.
5. The bloggers have to have less than 200 followers.
6. Go inform them that you nominated them for the award.

 

So, to start things off, here are 11 random things about me.

1. I started college with a double major in English and Secondary Education. I dropped the Education major after one year.
2. When I moved to Japan, I spoke no Japanese.
3. I am ten years younger than my husband.
4. I never grew out of my horse-loving phase (doesn’t every girl have one?), and I would love to ride if I had the opportunity.
5. I’ve eaten horse, and it is delicious.
6. I refuse to pay for cable TV, and I don’t miss watching TV at all.
7. I’ve moved so many times that I’ve lost count. It’s easily more than a dozen. Probably closer to two dozen. I’ve lived in five states, Puerto Rico, and Japan.
8. I would love to visit Germany.
9. I believe that snow is completely unacceptable, except on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
10. When I first met Geordie, I thought that he wasn’t my type. Also, he wasn’t tall enough.
11. I celebrate the Equinoxes and Solstices.

 

And now, I’ll answer Hannah’s questions:

1. What is your favorite book?
A Writer’s Book of Days, by Judy Reeves. It’s a prompt-a-day book, and what I like about it is that they’re not just straight journaling prompts, they’re great for sparking scenes in fictional stories. Yesterday’s was “Write about acceptable losses.” Nice and open-ended.

2. Have you ever read the entire Bible, either all at once or in general?
Yes, but it’s been a very long time.

3. How many hours a day do you spend on Facebook?
Um, maybe 2? Altogether. Usually in spurts of 10-15 minutes or so.

4. If you could afford a live-in maid, would you hire one?
Probably. Mostly for sweeping/vacuuming and dish-washing duties. Also, for cleaning bathrooms.

5. What is your dream car?
I am actually quite fond of the one I have now, so let’s just go with a Chevy Cobalt.

6. Do you prefer to live close or far away from family?
That seems like a loaded question. I’ve lived on the other side of the world from my family, and it really didn’t bother me. I’ve also lived within a three-hour’s drive from family, and that didn’t bother me either. I think I’d be okay as long as I wasn’t Too Close. Like next door or in the same town.

7. What is your all-time favorite song?
“Warning Sign,” by Coldplay.

8. How did you find the Sadie Mae’s Mommy blog?
Honestly, I don’t quite recall. I think it might have been via a link-up done by the Faces of Loss blog. I am 99.99% certain it was through a link-up.

9. What is your go-to meal when you’re rushed for supper?
Chik-Fil-A. Maybe that sounds strange coming from someone who loves to cook so much, but I do not do spontaneous cooking. I plot and plan our dinners, so when the schedule gets knocked off kilter, it’s Chik-Fil-A, leftovers,  or sometimes a pizza from Papa John’s.

10. Are you named after any of your relatives?
Nope. They considered naming me Sara Leigh, after my father (whose middle name is Lee), but they decided that might not be the best idea.

11. What is your favorite blog?
That’s a tough one, but it’s got to be Heather’s blog. She’s my BFF, and we don’t get as much contact as we’d like, so I love it when she blogs. She hasn’t done much lately, for various reasons, but I like to think I’m always the first one there to read a new post.

 

And now, my questions for my nominees:

1. If you could have any kind of pet, what would you have?
2. What was your first car?
3. Do you still live in the city you were born in?
4. If you could be fluent in any language, what would it be?
5. What’s your favorite meal to cook?
6. What was your high school mascot?
7. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
8. The first time you took a plane trip, where did you go?
9. What is the most valuable thing you own?
10. What is your favorite piece of clothing?
11. If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would you go?

 

And my nominees. Please note, you’re under no obligation. It’s just that I find your blogs highly entertaining, and I just want to share the love!

Stretching My Wings – my BFF’s blog, though she’s been a bit too preoccupied to update it lately.
Getting It Sorted – a babyloss mama who was recently blessed with the arrival of her rainbow baby
Miss Conception – another babyloss mama who had her rainbow baby just last month!
Created Family – still another babyloss mama who is expecting her rainbow baby next month
By the Brooke – I hadn’t realized until now how many blogs I read by babyloss mamas who are now enjoying enjoying their lives with their rainbow babies. Here’s another!
Love is Blonde – a very sweet babyloss mama who recently had beautiful twin boys!
Four to Adore – the last babyloss/TTC blog, I promise! They brought home not only one beautiful baby but four of them!
A Mama, Baby, and Shar-Pei in the Kitchen – a fellow Dorista and all-around nice lady!
Always Add More Butter – another Dorista and aspiring baker
Yummy Chunklet – fellow Dorista who makes delicious-looking dishes!
One Wet Foot – a Dorista who not only makes great-looking food but also never fails to amuse me with her writing

It’s been a long time since I did a Q&A. This one from love is blonde seemed like a good thing to do. She had a lot to celebrate as 2012 came to an end; I hope 2013 is our year to celebrate.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
I traveled to Massachusetts and met my husband’s extended family. I’d never been to New England before. Geordie’s family is great, very loving and very kind to us, but also very boisterous and alive. I like that about them. They take care of each other, which is one of the most important things about being a family. I think Geordie and I are both pretty lucky in how supportive our families were this past year. We needed that.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
Kinda and yes. I kept some resolutions. Others kinda fell to the wayside a bit. But I never really gave up on them. It’s just that some of them didn’t need doing anymore. So, I’m making resolutions for 2013. They have nothing to do with becoming a new person, just about being a better me. I’ll probably be posting those tomorrow. One thing’s for certain – I want to blog more in 2013 than I did in 2012.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin’s second child arrived in March. He arrived a little earlier than he should have, but both he and my cousin’s wife made it safely through the delivery, and he’s a good-looking healthy boy now. I’ve also seen a number of my fellow babyloss mamas give birth to rainbow children, which is beyond awesome. I’m getting better at looking at baby pictures, and it can be quite comforting to see their little rainbows and know that there’s hope for us this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Geordie’s aunt died on May 1st, before I’d had a chance to meet her. I wish I had been able to – she is much loved and much missed by her family. It was totally unexpected; she was only in her 40’s, just a handful of years older than Geordie. Also, one of my great-uncles on my father’s side died in late October. He was much older, but the death was still sudden.

5. What countries did you visit?
None other than the US. Too bad. And we don’t really have any plans for going out of country this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you didn’t have in 2012?
A baby. Since we don’t plan on actively trying to conceive until March or April, it seems unlikely that will happen. I’ll settle for a pregnancy.

7. What dates will be etched upon your memory, and why?
May 1st, the day Geordie’s aunt died. I was stuck in bed with a stomach illness for much of it, but I remember how this family came together to comfort each other and provide support. It was a tragic thing to witness, but also very beautiful.  Also, the days we spent at Mt. Washington celebrating our first anniversary, how carefree and happy we were. It was exactly what we needed. And, of course, the Birthday Fiesta o’ Fun.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Maybe this will seem silly, but the roasting of the birds. Before 2012, I had never roasted a whole bird. Now, I’ve successfully roasted chicken, duck, and turkey. I never realized how simple it would be.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Honesty, I’m having a hard time answering this one. I don’t feel like I failed much at anything this year. Everyone says that you need to be gentle with yourself when you’re mourning, and I’ve tried to do that. I’ve tried not to push myself too much, to do only that which I know I can do. I feel bad about not blogging much over the summer, but it just wasn’t what I needed to do at the time. I wish I had spent more time making Lauren’s quilt, but it’s been difficult to work on. I’m hoping to get more done with it this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
We didn’t make any major purchases last year, so I’m having a hard time coming up with “the best thing.” We adopted the kittens. They’re pretty cool.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All our family and friends. The support we have received in the past year has been amazing.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The financial aid lady from the Art Institute.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Into the move to San Antonio. Well worth it.

15. What did you get really excited about?
The Birthday Fiesta o’ Fun, the joint birthday party Heather and I throw for ourselves. It was our first since 2009, and it was possibly the best every. We’re going to have to work hard to top it this year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
“Gangnam Style.” I like this song, though I can’t really figure out why. I just like it.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder, b) thinner or fatter, c) richer or poorer?
Happier, I think. A little more at peace with things.
Pretty much the same, actually. I wish I could say thinner, but that’s better than the alternative.
Richer, seeing as how we’ve got an income and all.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. Like, serious novel writing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Sitting around and doing nothing. Though, to be fair, that can be pretty therapeutic.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
Quietly, at home, with family. The best way to spend Christmas.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I could go with the sappy answer and say I fell in love with Geordie all over again, but to me, that feels like an implication that I fell out of love with him. And that simply didn’t happen. Though, I could honestly say I love him more than ever. 

22. What was your favorite TV program?
“Chopped.” I watched the Food Network pretty exclusively last year. And even that stopped when we moved to San Antonio and never bought a TV. Now we have one, but no cable (by choice). We’re sticking with Netflix and working our way through “Law & Order.”

23. What was the best book you read?
The “Hunger Games” series. I probably liked “Mockingjay” best, but you’ve really got to take them as a whole. There’s a lot to like about them, but it’s the twisting together of despair and hope that make them work so well for me. I loved the epilogue, that the main character felt the effects of her life far into adulthood but still managed to claim some happiness. She didn’t just get better; she learned to live with it. I know what it means to do that.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I only recently started listening to the radio again. I haven’t been much interested in music since Lauren died. But I like fun., especially their song “Carry On.” Again, it’s that message of hope amidst despair.

25. What did you want and get?
A job for Geordie, a home of our own, two adorable kittens, some stability, a little peace of mind. I would have liked to have gotten pregnant, but that really wasn’t feasible in 2012. We’re leaving that for 2013.

26. What did you want and not get?
That pregnancy I mentioned. Other than that, not much.

27. What was your favorite film of 2012?
In regards to released in theaters in 2012, I saw only one – “The Hunger Games,” which I enjoyed, but not as much as the book. I’ve rather lost interest in seeing movies in theaters. I’ve been disappointed by too many of them in recent years.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31. How strange it is. But I celebrated it the best way possible, with BFF Heather (whose birthday is a day after mine). Years ago, we started the tradition of the Birthday Fiesta o’ Fun, during which we cook a huge meal and feed it to our guests. Our theme this year was “Apple,” which worked wonderfully.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If Geordie had gotten this job sooner. Not to complain. It’s a good job, and we’re lucky to be happy where we are. But it would have been nicer to be secure sooner. But then we wouldn’t have had so much time to spend in Massachusetts, so that’s okay too.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2012?
Flatlined. I have clothes that fit me. I bought what I needed. That is all.

31. What kept you sane?
Geordie. I would not have made it through this year without him. He is what makes life worth living.

32. What political issue stirred you the most?
Debates over who has control over reproduction. That decision belongs to each individual person, not to third-parties who have no knowledge of the particular circumstances. And that’s all I’ll say about it.

33. Who do you miss?
Lauren. Every single day.

34. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Life doesn’t stop because of tragedy. It pauses a while, but it goes on. You can take a break from life when you need to, but you can’t give up on it. And you can’t expect others to pause when or as long as you do. It’ll keep going without you.

35. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“When you’re lost and alone/or you’re sinking like a stone,/carry on.”

36. What else will always remind you of 2012?
Everything. I can’t see how I could forget the first full year we spent without Lauren. There will be so many years to follow, but 2012 was the first. It was so hard, but we survived it. That’s all there is to it.

Happy 2013, folks. I hope it’s a good one.

Today, I have another response to another post over at Glow in the Woods. I’ve been spending more time there recently – perhaps because of the time of the year? – and I find that it continues to be a place of refuge for me. It also continues to teach me much about mourning and grief, whether my own journey through it or the journeys of others. It is a healing place, one that has brought comfort to many in the darkest moments. I like it there.

I like it there, even when I don’t agree with everything that’s said. That’s okay. One person’s grief may well be different from another’s. No matter whether I agree or not, the posts there always get me thinking, and that’s a good thing. In the most recent post, one of the contributors writes about identifying with ancient goddesses of grief: the Greek Demeter and Hecate, the Norse Frigga, and so on. She focuses especially on Demeter, and the more I read, the more I understood her reasoning. And the less I found myself relating to Demeter.

I read a lot of Greek mythology in my younger years, and it continues to hold a certain fascination for me. I can’t say that I ever had much interest in Demeter, a mother-goddess figure whose most well-known myth involves the abduction of her daughter Persephone. In the end, Persephone wed her captor (Hades) and became Queen of the Underworld. Not much is ever said how she feels about it all. We see mostly Demeter’s mourning, her triumph at her daughter’s return, and then the relapse of mourning when it’s revealed that, because of her actions in the Underworld, Persephone will have to remain there six months out of the year.

It was not one of my favorite myths. As an origin story for the seasons, it makes sense. Persephone’s descent into the Underworld is mimicked by the coming of winter; her return to the upper world an ushering in of spring. As a story of characters, it confounds me. Persephone and Hades are hardly developed at all, their relationship after abduction shadowy and largely ignored. The focus was entirely on Demeter and her grief, and as a young woman untouched by bereavement, I was not much moved by it. Honestly, I hadn’t given her very much thought until now.

Demeter and I, we both lost our daughters. But even so, I can’t come to identify with her too much. I understand her pain, but in so many ways, I can’t consider her an archetype for myself.

For one thing, she turned her grief into destruction. Her grief is the causee of the barren seasons. When Persephone returns to the Underworld, Demeter turns from a nurturing mother to a mourner. In some stories, she destroys crops out of spite, unwilling to allow the earth to be fruitful even as she is denied her daughter. In other stories, she is merely negligent, unable to keep up with her worldly tasks because she is so distraught with grief. I admit, I can understand that last bit, but it’s something I’ve tried to avoid myself. I’ve tried to turn my grief towards creation, to make life better for myself and for others, if only in small ways. While I understand the importance of mourning, I also understand that I can’t allow it to rule my life, to take from me the ability to hope and love and simply live.

For another thing, Persephone returns to her mother six months out of the year. I find myself contemptuous of Demeter for that reason alone. Yes, initially, she thought she had lost her daughter forever, and her grief was unbearable. So unbearable, in fact that, in one version of the story, Zeus grows so tired of it that he goes to Hades to implore him to let Persephone return to her mother. (To be fair, most other versions have Zeus acting out of concern for humans, who were dying under the blanket of drought Demeter had brought upon them.) In the end, Demeter is reunited wth her daughter. Will I ever have that? Not in this world, not in this lifetime. My daughter – and so many other daughters, other children – will never return, even for a short time. We don’t even get six months of the year with them. We get nothing, no consolation prize. All the seasons of our lives are mourning periods, no matter how green and happy Demeter may be.

No, Demeter never, to me, seems to be the model of mourning. If I had to select a Greek figure of mourning that I most identify with, it would likely be Niobe, for whom I have always felt great pity.

Niobe’s only sin was that she was prideful. As with so many Greek myths, her hubris was her destruction. (The Greeks really had a thing against being too proud. It brought down a lot of people in Greek myths and tragedies.) She had a number of children – it varies depending on who is telling the story, from merely four to an extravagant twenty. At a ritual dedicated to the goddess Leto, she made the mistake of boasting of the number of her children (or the beauty of them, again the stories vary) in comparison to Leto’s two. Leto became so enraged that she sent those two children (the major deities Apollo and Artemis) to slay Niobe’s children. All of them.

What mother hasn’t boasted about her children? Or at least thought of boasting about them? Yes, it was foolish of Niobe to do it, because she was Greek and at the mercy of their incredibly flighty and vengeful gods. Her children were all murdered, her husband killed himself from the grief (or was also struck dead because he vowed to avenge them), and nobody felt badly for Niobe because she had brought it upon herself. She climbed up to a mountainside, wept until she turned into a rock, and now weeps for eternity. Her story was intended as a warning, that even parental pride could be destructive. Perhaps – but such a price to pay! And brought upon her by a mother-goddess. I’ve never liked Leto since.

Niobe will never get her children back, no matter how many tears she weeps. And she weeps alone, on her mountainside, secluded in her grief, and the world moves on unaware. That’s how I feel in my grief, though I feel myself more sheltered in the supporting arms of family and friends. A shelter away from those who would feel nothing for my loss. I cannot make demands like Demeter and get what I want. Lauren will never return to me. I can only mourn. That’s the comfort I have left to me.

As for other goddesses of mourning, there is Hecate, the triple-spirited goddess of grief and the night. She is depicted as a guide through the mourning process, and I could devote a thousand words to her alone.

Some other time, perhaps.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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